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Real Humans of the Wharton MBA Class of 2020

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Have you been anxiously awaiting an invitation to interview at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School? What better time to learn more about the school’s current first-year MBA class?

You’re in luck, because the latest installment in our Real Humans series today features the Wharton MBA Class of 2020. But before we introduce you to individual members of that class, we’ll paint a picture of the class as a whole using these stats published as part of the class profile.

“This class is an impressive collection of leaders from all walks of life, backgrounds, nationalities, industry experiences, and ambitions,” Wharton Deputy Vice Dean Maryellen Reilly shared in a post to the school’s MBA Admissions Blog back in August. “These newest members of the Wharton community bring with them a wide range of perspectives to enrich their shared experiences both in and outside of the classroom.”

Application volume was off by 6.7 percent year over year, dropping from 6,692 to 6,245. But Wharton was joined by most leading business schools in this regard this admissions season. And even though application volume was down, average GMAT score returned to the school’s record high of 732, matching the Class of 2017.

Perhaps one of the biggest shifts between last year’s class and this year’s was an uptick in humanities undergrads, from 41 to 45 percent of the class. Students from STEM backgrounds make up another 29 percent of the class, trailed by those who studied business, at just 26 percent

One-third (33 percent) of the incoming class is international, up from 32 percent last year. Although students this year hail from 80 different countries, compared to just 65 one year ago. U.S. students of color make up another third of this year’s class, unchanged from last year.

There are 862 students in the Class of 2020, one shy of the class before, and the percentage of female students slipped one point, to 43 percent.

In terms of prior work experience, former consultants outnumber all others by a considerable margin, making up 27 percent of the class, up from 26 percent last year. The next-largest group, at 13 percent, comes from private equity/venture capital, followed by 10 percent from tech.

Year of Big Gifts
Already this fall, Wharton has announced two major alumni gifts that promise to significantly impact future students. The first, a $50 million gift from alumnus Marc J. Rowan (W’84 & WG’85) and his wife Carolyn, is the largest single gift in the school’s history. It will help attract new world-class faculty and support the Penn Wharton Budget Model (PWBM), a groundbreaking program on economic policy analysis.

The second, announced just last week, is a $25 million gift from alumnus Nicolai Tangen (W ’92). It will fund construction of Tangen Hall, the first-ever dedicated space for cross-campus entrepreneurship at the University of Pennsylvania. It will also establish a scholarship for international undergraduate students.

Wharton was also one of the first leading business schools to share employment data for the most recent graduating class, the Class of 2018, which it did last week. Highlights include a $5,000 increase in median annual salary, slightly more graduates headed into finance (36.9 percent, as compared to 33 percent last year), and slightly fewer headed into consulting (25 percent, down from 28) and tech (14.9 percent, down from 16). For more details on where Wharton grads are getting jobs, click here.

Without further ado, allow us to introduce you to a handful of individuals in the Wharton MBA Class of 2020. Our thanks to these students for participating. The responses they’ve shared help shed light on the current Wharton student body as well as what made the Philadelphia school the right choice for them.

Erik Alexander Lorig, Wharton MBA Class of 2020

Age: 31

Hometown: Rolling Hills, CA

Undergraduate Institution and Major: Stanford University, B.A. public policy; M.A., communication

Pre-MBA Work Experience: 6 years, starting NFL player; 1 year, private equity analyst

Why business school? Why now? After retiring from a successful and fulfilling NFL career, I spent a year at a middle market PE firm where I began to explore new analytical skill sets and frameworks of thinking. Learning more about business school from friends and colleagues, I determined it was a perfect setting to continue honing new skills and exploring career interests. Shifting into a new career after having ended another, I’m at a crossroads in my career trajectory. I felt strongly that now would be the ideal time for me to experience Wharton by developing quantitative reasoning skills and exploring new passions through engagement with fellow classmates in in-depth discussions.

Why Wharton? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend? Wharton is known for its quantitative focus and academic rigor, which aligned with what I was searching for in a graduate school program. When I started visiting the Philadelphia campus, calling alums, and speaking with current students, I learned quickly about the global

Erik Alexander Lorig, Wharton MBA Class of 2020

diversity and interesting types of students Wharton was attracting.

I figured out that Wharton was one of the rare schools that was committed to quantitative-based reasoning and course curriculum, yet with a global perspective. It was this unique combination that drew me in further to the program. For example, the Team Based Discussion topic featured in the interview process was structured around developing a detailed GMC curriculum in another country—that was so exciting to me!

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the class of 2020? Maintaining an NFL career required a great deal of commitment, teamwork, focus, and performance. It is thanks to this skill set that I was successful throughout my six-year career as well as in identifying areas where I could give back along the way. Throughout my NFL career, I helped to run a non-profit called American Football Without Barriers. AFWB is an organization that brings NFL players to third world countries.

We organize camps and outreach programs in developing countries where American football has an emerging presence and playing population. Being able to spread football across the globe has been a fulfilling and incredible learning experience. My differentiating contribution to the 2020 class is my experience—not only operating at a high level while being full committed to a team, but also using passion for football to spread awareness and help others where I know I can have the most impact.

Fun fact that didn’t get contributed in your application? While college and NFL football eventually became my career objective, my first sport was actually surfing. I learned when I was six years old! Had I spent as much time working on my surfing skills as I did on football as a teenager, I likely would have become a professional surfer. I maintained surfing in my off time, both in California and even around the world as I grew up, went to college, and as a working professional. I’ve surfed in many different countries, chasing great waves. Surfing is a passion and lifestyle for me.

Advice to current and prospective applicants: My advice to prospective students would be to begin reaching out to current students and visiting admissions departments to answer any questions you have. Asking them hard questions about the culture of the institution. This information can be so valuable as you’re making a decision on the business school that might be the best fit for you.

Moreover, instead of trying to complete the entire application and testing in a few months, plan out the application requirements eight to 12 months in advance to be safe. You don’t want to feel stressed for time during the process given you’re going to want to spend time critically thinking about each institution you’re considering.

What is your initial impression of Wharton’s students/culture/community? Not only are students globally and professionally diverse, they have a varying set of future interests. I was not expecting so many of my fellow students to be pursuing their own ideas or for as many to be open to entering new career paths. I find the emergence of new ideas to be incredibly refreshing. Overwhelmingly, Wharton students are optimistic about their ideas and future career goals, which makes the culture and community unique.

One thing you have learned about Wharton that has surprised you? The number of program exchanges and partnerships with international business schools around the world—not to mention the internal Wharton programs you can be involved—opens the door to so many differing opportunities and experiences. There are many different program types, it’s a matter of finding the one that aligns with what you’re looking for.

Thing you are most anxious about in your first year? I’m anxious about managing the recruiting process, remaining committed to my courses, and getting everything I can out of the material. I don’t want to sacrifice either, so I’m anxious about the balance between the two.

Things you are most excited about in your first year? I’m most excited about engaging with recruiting and career specialists while learning from the professors as I begin a new career journey. The prospect of working with specialized professionals and learning how I can apply their knowledge to my goals will be highly beneficial as I navigate prospective next steps.

Evan Seale, Wharton MBA Class of 2020

Age: 31

Hometown: Houston, TX

Undergraduate Institution and Major: United States Military Academy, engineering management

Pre-MBA work experience: 8 years total. I spent 5 years in the Army as a field artillery officer serving in both conventional and special operations forces. I also spent 3 years working for a private equity firm focused on deal originations—sourcing investments for the firm.

Why business school? Why now?I wanted to broaden my network, enhance my hard skills in accounting, finance, etc. I also wanted a change of pace where I could travel and experience a new city.

Why Wharton? What factors figured most prominently in your decision of where to attend? Wharton is hyper-focused on using data and analytics to evaluate business problems, and it’s becoming increasingly important to analyze problems in this way. I wanted to achieve an MBA from an institution that would prepare me for the future. Wharton is hands down the best.

Evan Seale, Wharton MBA Class of 2020

What do you think is your most valuable and differentiating contribution to the Class of 2020? I believe the student body is the most valuable contribution—you have brilliant people coming from all over the world to work together. The lessons you learn from your classmates are arguably more valuable than the actual classes.

Fun-fact that didn’t get included in your application? I got to fly an AH-6 little bird helicopter (a tiny, special operations helicopter) with zero training.

Post-MBA career interests? I’m interested in entrepreneurship and private equity.

Advice to current prospective applicants? Take time to really think about why you want an MBA and which program best fits your style. Narrow down your list of schools, and focus really hard on the ones you are most interested in attending.

–One thing you would change or do differently? I would have focused on one or two school applications. I overextended myself with “safety” schools—this just distracted me from putting time and energy into the school I wanted to attend (Wharton).

–Part you would have skipped if you could- and what helped you get through it? The essays, which are incredibly stressful. I talked about my ideas with several people and got plenty of feedback.

What is your initial impression of Wharton’s students/culture/community? So far it’s been amazing. Everyone is accepting of one another and genuinely interested to learn about each other.

One thing about Wharton that has surprised you? Wharton is incredibly inclusive of partners, which is really cool for people with significant others.

Things that you are most anxious about in first year? I already feel that there are so many opportunities, clubs, people, etc. to meet and experience that I don’t have enough time. I don’t want to miss out on anything, so I am anxious about how I spend my time.

Things that you are most excited about in your first year? I am excited about the relationships I will make this first year.

Rachel Delia, Wharton MBA Class of 2020

Age: 29

Hometown: Lebanon, NJ

Undergraduate Institution and Major: Boston College, Carroll School of Management, finance

Pre-MBA work experience: Prior to business school, I worked in credit risk and corporate banking for 5 years covering both the consumer/retail and technology industries in New York and San Francisco. Most recently, I left banking to start my natural products company, Flask Brands, focused on developing plant-based skin and home products with full ingredient transparency.

Why business school? Why now? Running has been an amazing learning opportunity for me. Through the process of establishing and operating this business, I grew interested in marketing tools, business analytics, and operational strategies that were outside the realm of my prior work experience. I recognized that business school would allow me to grow my skill set and continue to develop both personally and professionally.

Why Wharton? What factors figured most prominently in your decision of where to attend? When looking at MBA programs, Wharton stood out to me as a place where everyone can craft their own unique journey. The flexibility to select coursework, clubs, and activities allows anyone here to create their ideal business school experience, and to do so while surrounded by an amazing group of supportive peers.

Having lived in both New York and San Francisco, I was also excited about the opportunity to explore Philadelphia and have really enjoyed getting to know the city.

Rachel Delia, Wharton MBA Class of 2020

What do you think is your most valuable and differentiating contribution to the Class of 2020? I believe that I bring a broad span of professional experiences to the class, having worked with some of the largest companies in the world while in banking, and also with very small U.S. businesses in my current role. I have also experienced the differences in business culture in NYC and the Bay Area, and the impact of these cultures on personal development. I hope to share insights that I have gained in these roles with my classmates to enhance our MBA experience.

Fun-fact that didn’t get included in your application? I was a background extra on a Netflix show and made it to the final audition round for a baking show on Netflix. Perhaps the communications courses (and food club) at Wharton will help me get past the finish line next time 🙂

Advice to current prospective applicants? Getting to know the culture and differentiators of business schools can be tricky, especially while spending time on your current job and the application process. I find that the best way to get to know a school is to speak with alumni, current students, and staff. These conversations will help you understand the true culture of a program.

–One thing you would change or do differently? I would have gone back to school earlier! In the first few weeks of preterm and coursework, I have already experienced many of the wonderful resources available at Wharton, and I look forward to becoming more engaged in the coming months.

Part you would have skipped if you could- and what helped you get through it? I would have applied in Round 1 instead of Round 2, as the Round 2 deadlines were aligned with a busy holiday time period for my company. I would encourage anyone looking at applying to MBA programs to take a long, forward-looking view of their calendar to plan out GMAT dates, recommender notifications, and time to work on the applications themselves.

What is your initial impression of Wharton’s students/culture/community? The Wharton community is both highly accomplished and very down to earth, which makes for a really wonderful group of classmates and professors.

One thing about Wharton that has surprised you? As Wharton is a large and very diverse program, there is always someone else here who is interested in whatever topic, interest, or outing that you want to discuss or try out. It is great to have a population of people that help you explore and expand your interests.

Things that you are most anxious about in first year? Ensuring that I get to experience everything that I am interested in during such a short time. I am glad to know that any annual event I miss out on will likely repeat next year.

Things that you are most excited about in your first year? While I can’t wait to jump into the Wharton course and extracurricular resources, what I am most excited about are the unknown adventures and possibilities awaiting in the next year. Whether a trip abroad to somewhere unique or a new idea or innovation waiting to come to life, I know that enrolling at Wharton has provided the keys to unlock a truly special experience.

Revant Himatsingka, Wharton MBA Class of 2020

Age: 26

Hometown: Kolkata, India

Undergraduate Institution and Major: Double major in finance and management from New York University, Stern School of Business

Pre-MBA work experience: Total 4 years. I started with 1 year in finance. Post that, I was leading a fast-casual Indian food chain in London called Inito and wrote a book called Selfienomics published by Bloomsbury. I have also been actively involved with public speaking in schools and colleges.

Why business school? Why now? While I was running my startup, I felt that I lacked certain technical and soft skills that I wanted to further improve upon and business school would provide me with an accelerated learning of that. I felt that I was making too many decisions based on intuition, and I wanted to make more data-driven decisions.

Why Wharton? What factors figured most prominently in your decision of where to attend? There were several reasons why I wanted to go to Wharton. The most important decision would be the brilliant business analytics tools at Wharton. Wharton has a business analytics major and also the Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative, which is by far the best in the world.

Moreover, Wharton has one of the best entrepreneurship tools available (especially for food entrepreneurs). Deliveroo and Matt & Marie were literally started in the classrooms at Wharton! NYC and SF can get a bit overwhelming for entrepreneurs. Wharton and Philly have the perfect balance of resources and match the demand for it.

Revant Himatsingka, Wharton MBA Class of 2020

What do you think is your most valuable and differentiating contribution to the Class of 2020? The Wharton class is extremely diverse, and everyone contributes in their own unique ways. My past experience as an author, motivational speaker, and food entrepreneur will probably further add to the classroom discussions and unique perspectives at Wharton.

My experience with speaking at TEDx events had already come in to use when giving the “60-second lecture” at Wharton!

Fun-fact that didn’t get included in your application? I had applied twice to Upenn as an undergrad, but I didn’t get in either time. Also, I was born on February 29th, so I have technically had six birthdays (though I guess we put our birth dates on our applications).

Post-MBA Career Interests? I’m interested in consulting, entrepreneurship, and non-profit/social impact. I believe that we must be flexible with our path, as long as we have a big-picture goal.

Advice to current prospective applicants?

–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process? Introspect, introspect, introspect.

 –One thing you would change or do differently? I believe that your application improves with time. I would try to apply with one to two safety schools in the beginning and then rectify those mistakes when applying to your top choice.

I think it’s a big mistake to apply to your top school in the first go itself, because you will usually learn after one or two applications.

 –Part you would have skipped if you could- and what helped you get through it? Since I had such an unconventional background (author, entrepreneur, motivational speaker), I was confused about how to fit it all in one essay. Retrospectively, I would make my essay simpler and clearer and be willing to not include every single detail about my life.

What is your initial impression of Wharton’s students/culture/community? So far, people have been extremely friendly and inclusive. Even though the second-years are away from internship, they always take time out to help out.

One thing about Wharton that has surprised you? This is not Wharton-specific, but I’m surprised at how amazing the food in Philly is.

Things that you are most anxious about in first year? A lot of the work, activities, events, recruiting all happens in the first year. So I’m a bit anxious on how to prioritize one activity over the other. From what I’ve heard, the second year is usually much more chilled out.

Things that you are most excited about in your first year? I’m excited to make close friends and genuinely learn from classes (rather than studying just for grades). In just the initial weeks of school, Wharton had already done a great job at making this large class feel smaller. They also have encouraged us to be more vulnerable with each other. Even though we were just strangers till sometime back, most of us talk about deeper level things and are genuinely curious to get to know each other. We prefer this to making superficial small talk.

Sadia Dhorat, Wharton MBA Class of 2020

Age: 26

Hometown: Johannesburg, South Africa

Undergraduate institution & major: University of Cape Town, business science: finance & accounting

Pre-MBA work experience: After completing my undergrad I went directly into management consulting with Bain and have spent the past 3.5 years in the Johannesburg & Dubai offices.

Why business school? Why now? Having grown up in family of entrepreneurs I have from a young age always had aspirations of being an independent entrepreneur in the long term. After spending 3.5 years at Bain, I felt like I had gained some of the hard and soft skills I set out to learn and was ready to take the next step in my hopeful journey to being an entrepreneur.

Coming to business school made the most sense to very tactically fill the gaps in knowledge I had identified in myself. It also promised to serve as an ideal platform for me to accelerate my thinking, access to resources, and exposure to some of the most established entrepreneurial ecosystems.

Why Wharton? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend? There were three key criteria I looked for in the schools I applied to and, ultimately, in deciding to come to Wharton: An established and continuously improving entrepreneurial ecosystem, increasing representation of African students (this is an important network for me), and a culture that I felt I could resonate with and wanted to be a part of (hard working, humble, and fun both inside and outside of the classroom). Wharton strongly met all of these and became an obvious choice for me.

Sadia Dhorat, Wharton MBA Class of 2020

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2020? Having a complex and multifaceted identity and set of lived experiences both in Africa and the Middle East allows me to bring a unique perspective to the classes and teams I am a part of. Being from Africa, I am able to offer my peers a point of view on the realities of business and life in a part of the world that many might never have been exposed to or who may be misinformed about.

Post MBA career interests? To explore an entrepreneurial path either through pursuing my own business ideas or joining an early-stage startup

Advice to current prospective students:

 –One thing you would absolutely do again during your application process? Make sure you get enough people of diverse profiles and experiences to read your essays to ensure that there is a consistent understanding of the messages and themes you are trying to highlight.

 –One thing you would change or do differently? Build in more time for your recommenders to write your letters and iterate on them (especially if you are applying in Round 2 over the holiday period).

 –Part you would have skipped if you could and what helped you get through it? GMAT! Working long hours every week and spending every weekend studying was not fun. Being sure about why you want to do the MBA and staying focused on the value add it will bring to your life helps to stay motivated and push through!

What is your initial impression of Wharton’s students/culture/community? I was incredibly surprised and very impressed by the fun, humble, and inclusive culture emphasized by Wharton faculty and so naturally practiced by new incoming and current Wharton students.

One thing you have learned about Wharton that has surprised you? The emphasis and people’s willingness to share so openly on very personal stories and experiences with a group of strangers (in organized and formalized groups) in a sincere effort to build meaningful relationships and bonds with people early and quickly.

Thing you are most anxious about in your first year? Being able to continuously prioritize what I know is important to me and being able to say no to experiences and opportunities that everyone else is doing but may not be aligned with what is right for me.

Thing you are most excited about in your first year? There are so many things I cannot wait for! The top things which come to mind are finally being able to learn for the sake of learning and genuine curiosity with dynamic professors and other curious classmates. Being fully immersed in the things I feel passionately about and am the most interested in. Following through on the stretch experiences I have identified for myself and reflecting on my own personal and professional growth and development over the course of the year!

Jonathan Pfeffer
Jonathan Pfeffer joined the Clear Admit and MetroMBA teams in 2015 after spending several years as an arts/culture writer, editor, and radio producer. In addition to his role as Contributing Writer at MetroMBA and Contributing Editor at Clear Admit, he was also a co-founder of the Clear Admit MBA Admissions Podcast. He holds a BA in Film/Video, Ethnomusicology, and Media Studies from Oberlin College.